The twins already faced a lifetime of fear. Now, after taking their cooperation against one of the world’s most feared drug lords further, their lawyers say the danger has been “exponentially exacerbated.”
Still, a federal judge shot down a bid by former drug traffickers Pedro Flores and Margarito Flores for an order that could have led to a more lenient prison sentence in exchange for their continued cooperation against Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
That’s according to a set of redacted documents that became public Monday.
The Flores twins rose to be the biggest drug dealers Chicago has ever known — and then turned themselves in and worked undercover to help prosecutors bring down Guzman and help fight his Sinaloa cartel.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo rewarded the twins with only 14 years in prison in 2015, warning them that, “for the rest of your life, every time you start a car, you will be wondering, ‘Will this car start or will it explode?’”
But their attorneys now argue that, at the time of their sentencing hearing, “there was no realistic possibility that (Guzman) would ever be brought to trial in the United States.” It turned out Guzman was captured, brought to trial in Brooklyn and sentenced to life in prison.
Pedro Flores testified at Guzman’s trial, and his lawyers say a federal prosecutor in New York promised to pursue a reduced sentence for him based on that cooperation. That prosecutor wound up sending a memo to federal prosecutors in Chicago, records show, but the feds here decided not to pursue the matter.
Chicago prosecutors argued that the Flores’ potential cooperation against Guzman was anticipated and considered during the twins’ 2015 sentencing hearing.
“It’s very clear in black and white that it was contemplated that the defendant’s cooperation would continue throughout his sentence, which he is still serving,” a prosecutor said during a hearing in August, according to a transcript.
The brothers’ lawyers said they thought their cooperation had ended when they were sentenced in 2015. The lawyers also said their families “remain in enormous danger based upon Guzman’s conviction regardless of which brother testified.” They hoped Castillo would order the feds to further reduce their sentence based on the additional cooperation.
But at the conclusion of the hearing in August, Castillo told the Flores’ attorneys, “I applaud your effort at creative lawyering on behalf of these two gentlemen.” He then added, “I’m going to deny the motion.”